The GI index: What it is, and why it is important

Can something as ‘simple’ as proper nutrition really make a difference in the life of a person struggling with ADD/ADHD? I am convinced that the answer to this question is a resounding ‘Yes!’

I am particularly convinced of the fact that a Low-GI diet can be a force for good in terms of building higher levels concentration and better emotional health. It is also becoming clear that it can act as a very effective tool in the struggle against the conditions that lead to the irrational impulsiveness and mood swings that are, sadly, often associated with ADD/ADHD.

Over the next few weeks we will ‘unpack’ some of the research that have been done to explore the links between the Glycemic Index (GI) and behavior, concentration and hyperactivity. The things that we will discover will shock, amaze and anger you! This is because drug companies, as well as ‘Big Food’, are trying their best to keep this link secret and to convince us that it should just be ‘business as usual’ in terms of what we put on our plates.

To this attitude we have to say: Enough is enough! Enough of diets devoid of the things that we need the most. Enough of drugging our kids into submission when they respond negatively to the ‘Frankenfoods’ that are such a seemingly normal part of everyday life.

Be prepared to discover some amazing truths about ADD/ADHD over the next few weeks. Before we delve a little deeper however, it would perhaps be good to just briefly discuss some of the theory behind the Clycemic Index (GI). This will make it very clear why it is so important if to come to grips with ‘GI issues’ if we really want to understand optimum human nutrition.

What is the Glycemic Index?

The simplest definition of the Glycemic Index is that it is a ranking system (scaled from 1 -100) that measures the extent to which specific carbohydrates raise the blood sugar level after it is eaten. If a specific food scores high on the GI Index it means that it is normally digested very quickly, leading to strong fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Low GI foods are, by contrast, digested slowly. This leads to gradual absorption of nutrients and gradual rises in insulin and blood sugar levels.

Making Low GI foods a cornerstone of your diet can make a marked difference to your life. Some of the main benefits of a Low GI diet include the following:

  • Improved Weight Management: Low GI foods can help you to avoid the ‘feast – famine’ cycle that is often associated with weight gain. Since Low GI nutrients are released slowly it provides constant energy, thus delaying the onset of the hunger reflex.
  • Improved General Health: Study after study have confirmed the linkage between High GI diets and serious health problems like heart disease, ‘Type 2’ Diabetes and obesity. This has led to the World Health Organization (WHO) officially recommending a Low GI diet as one of the best ways to prevent the abovementioned ‘diseases of affluence’.
  • Improved Emotional Health: Most parents are probably all too familiar with the effects of ‘sugar spikes’ where kids seem to bouncing of the walls after eating too much sugar…only to become grumpy and lethargic the next moment! This effect is not only linked to ingesting ‘pure sugar’ but also to easily-digested High GI foods. A Low GI diet, with its more measured release of nutrients, can therefore be one of the best ways to manage food-induced mood swings.
  • Improved Management of the symptoms of ADD/ADHD: It is becoming clearer that good nutrition is one of the secrets of the proper management of ADD/ADHD. It is therefore exciting to realize that one of the lesser known advantages of a Low-GI diet is the effect that it can have on people who are presenting some of the symptoms of ADD/ADHD. The reasons why this is the case, and how you can use this fact to your advantage, will be the subject of the articles the will follow over the next few weeks. Be sure to check back regularly. What you will find will astound you. It also has the potential to radically change your life for the better.

‘You are what you eat!’ or so the old saying goes. People all over the world are increasingly finding that ancient wisdom was spot-on in this instance. Effectively addressing some of the most common modern health epidemics can, in many cases, simply be a matter of paying close attention to what you put into your body. This is especially true in the case of ADD/ADHD. I therefore encourage you to come back next week as we continue to explore the links between a Low GI diet and good emotional and psychological health.